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Brickeens
 Posted: Aug 10 2016, 02:32 PM
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I've recently become interested in the subject of drugs/drug policy (quite timely too, as Ireland may be soon doing something similar to Portugal and decriminalising possession of small amounts for personal use, as well as opening safe injecting rooms) and have read a couple of books (so interesting I managed to get through two entire books with my terrible concentration) about the War on Drugs, as well as addiction.

It's quite a fascinating subject because most things that are taken for granted around the drug war/drug addiction itself are wrong, and while on instinct I formerly would have had quite a conservative view on drug policy, I'm now in favour of an end to prohibition and various forms of legalisation/regulation.

Thoughts on the subject?
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Terror
 Posted: Aug 10 2016, 03:32 PM
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TBH, I wouldn't do any but IDGAF as long as you aren't breaking any laws or hurting anyone
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Serein
 Posted: Aug 10 2016, 11:10 PM
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the war on drugs needs to fucking end. the amount of people in prison over minor dug-related offenses is absolutely absurd

mixed thoughts on legalizing drugs though. marijuana definitely, harder drugs should probably just be decriminalized rather than completely legalized

also only tangentially related but let's legalize prostitution already for fuck's sake



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fishers64
 Posted: Aug 11 2016, 12:16 AM
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I'm in the "massive shrug until it ends up on my doorstep" club. It's not an issue that affects my life, so I don't have an opinion.
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Serein
 Posted: Aug 11 2016, 12:25 AM
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QUOTE (Scythey @ Aug 10 2016, 11:10 PM)
the amount of people in prison over minor dug-related offenses is absolutely absurd


user posted image

I'm not even going to bother fixing that typo

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Heat
 Posted: Aug 11 2016, 08:14 AM
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just an irrationality
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QUOTE (Scythey @ Aug 11 2016, 05:10 AM)
the war on drugs needs to fucking end. the amount of people in prison over minor dug-related offenses is absolutely absurd

mixed thoughts on legalizing drugs though. marijuana definitely, harder drugs should probably just be decriminalized rather than completely legalized

I basically agree with this

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Brickeens
 Posted: Aug 11 2016, 09:38 AM
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QUOTE (Scythey @ Aug 11 2016, 04:10 AM)
mixed thoughts on legalizing drugs though. marijuana definitely, harder drugs should probably just be decriminalized rather than completely legalized


One thing worth noting there is that legalisation means different things for different drugs, ie, not necessarily that you can just walk into a store and buy them, but get them via prescription or something similar. There's a great article here (actually an extract from one of the books I read), the case for prescription heroin.

Also worth adding is that when talking about the so-called strong and dangerous drugs, prohibition actually makes drugs stronger and a lot more dangerous. It's called the iron law of prohibition, which is basically that if you're smuggling and selling something illegal, you want to pack as much of it as possible into as small a possible space in order to make the most profit - so drugs become more and more concentrated under prohibition to make smuggling more efficient. The drugs are likely still diluted after smuggling so dealers can sell even more, but that again adds a different danger due to contamination, and also the fact that the user has no idea what they're using is say, 5% heroin or 50% heroin, which is a large factor in why overdoses happen. One shocking fact is that long-term use of medically pure heroin is far less damaging to the body and brain than long term alcohol use - heroin is only more dangerous if you overdose. Before prohibition, cocaine and opiate based products were available in pharmacies, and because they were legal were a lot weaker and less dangerous.

Possibly the biggest reason to legalise as much as possible is that prohibition actually causes a huge amount of crime and violence. If you own a store and sell alcohol, if anyone tries to steal from you, the law is on your side so you can can the police. But if you're selling something illegal and someone tries to steal from you, you obviously can't call the police, so you have to fight them. Dealers don't want to be having a fight every day, so they have to establish a reputation for being so terrifying that nobody will ever dare cross them, which they do by committing theatrical acts of violence. On top of that, the drug trade is extremely profitable, so gangs will fight each other to control the trade, meaning even more extreme forms of violence that often kills innocent bystanders. Another surprising fact is that every time a drug dealer is taken out by police, the murder rate in the area actually goes significantly up - because immediately new dealers try to move in. And to top it off, because an illegal trade makes drugs much more expensive, anyone addicted to drugs is forced into crime in order to survive, ie, shoplifting, robbery, etc, in order to finance their addiction.

tl;dr the more drugs that can be in some form or other legalised the better, because the trade being in the hands of gangs makes everything an awful lot worse. There's a great example of this in Switzerland, where they dealt with a heroin crisis by opening free heroin maintenence centres. You're assigned to a clinic, you can go there I think three times a day, they give you your heroin for free (you're not allowed take it out so you can't re-sell it) and are given support to turn your life around. It works really well because 1) the gangs are no longer in control of the trade, and 2) people no longer have to finance their addiction, both of which drastically reduce crime.

Other quite counter-intuitive facts are that the so-called strong drugs aren't intrinsically addictive - one of many myths propagated by the drug war is that it's in everybody's interest to restrict access to drugs as much as possible because they're just too dangerous due to high risk of addiciton, but that's another myth. It's been consistently found that with all kinds of drugs, ie, marijuana to cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, etc, that approximately 10-15% of users will become addicted - meaning that 85% to 90% don't. Drugs are basically no different to alcohol - most people can enjoy a drink regularly without a problem, with a smaller percentage of those users being alcoholics. What actually causes drug addiction is typically severe emotional pain and trauma - drugs act as either stimulants to help people feel normal, or painkillers to help take them away from their misery. If you need neither of those things, addiction is very unlikely. The heroin maintence centres in Switzerland demonstrate that principle very well - in the centres, you can literally set your own dose (obviously they won't give you anything that would kill you, but anything else) and can stay on the program for as long as you want. In other words, if you wanted you could stay on the highest dose of heroin possible for your entire life without there being pressure to cut back. But instead, because the chaos of being a street user ends and people are given support, people voluntarily reduce their dose over time because they're no longer in terrible emotional pain, and IIRC the average person is finished on the program in around three years.

WOW this got really long, really there's a ton more to the subject but basically I'm in favour of as much sensible legalisation as possible. The books I got all this from are Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, and The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit, both of which are very eye-opening and absolutely loaded with citations. There's a great animated video based on the first book here.
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